26th August 2019

Hellenic League Premier Division

Easington Sports (0) Brackley Town Saints (1) 

Saints: Crowther, Middleton (L), Gabbidon, Godfrey, Middleton (D), March, Ball, Kille (Hammond M 71), Godfrey(Dowse 61), Knight, Hammond (J), Stott.

Subs not used: Brock

I think that most expected a tight local derby between these 2 clubs and so it was, settled by one goal when Matt Hammond’s free kick on 80 minutes breached the Sports wall and allowed Saints to notch their first league victory of the season and to bag all three points.

In stifling conditions the two teams made good starts with both sides forcing early free kicks in dangerous areas. Saints were better in possession and on 10 minutes Lee Farrow in the Sports goal was forced to scramble across his goal to touch a Jordan Godfrey shot around the post. Farrow was then tested by a Ryan Knight header from Godfrey's free-kick. 

Even so the best chance of the half came on 14 minutes for Sports when Andrew Stidder got on to the end of a long ball out of defence and his stinging shot bound for the top corner was brilliantly saved by Matthew Crowther in the Saints goal. 

Alex Stott was having an excellent first half finding lots of room on the left flank and he tested Farrow from the edge of the box with a good left foot strike. He was then set away by an astute pass from Knight he cut in on his right foot beat 2 defenders but just when it seemed he must score his shot was brilliantly blocked by the last defender.

Half time brought some respite from the 30 degree heat. Saints seemed to recharge their batteries the better of the two sides and were straight into their stride. On 46 minutes a neat chip from James Hammond played Knight in behind the Sports defence, but his lob over Farrow drifted narrowly wide. 

On 61 minutes Godfrey turned his ankle and was replaced by Ethan Dowse who slotted into midfield. Saints then came close again when Dean March climbed well to meet a corner but his header was not powerful enough to beat Farrow. James Hammond then ran on to a ball bouncing on the edge of the box but he fired over and George Ball cut in but shot straight at Farrow as Saints continued to create all the openings. 

At the other end, Sports were struggling to break down a solid defensive display by the Saints back line backed up by Crowther, who had a confident game, but did not have a shot to save in the second half. On 71 minutes Matt Hammond replaced the tiring Charlie Kille and the fresh legs had an immediate effect. 

A great move saw James Hammond release Knight into the box and his cross to the far post was met by George Ball whose volleyed shot was skewed across the goal just beyond Matt Hammond who stretched but was only able to divert the ball past the post. Was that the chance?

Saints pushed again and a raking pass from Matt Hammond found Stott wide on the left. His pacy run was only thwarted by a foul right on the edge of the Sports penalty box. Hammond stepped up and made immediate amends for the earlier miss when his free-kick found a gap in the wall and nestled in the back of the net with Farrow stranded.

Sports pushed for an equaliser and Tom Smith fired just over from the edge of the box after Stott had lost possession in midfield. Stott immediately atoned with a cracking run and pass out to George Ball, but Ball seemed to get caught in two minds and neither shot nor crossed. 

All in all a tight game that Saints deserved to win. Longlevens at home in the league next Saturday. Let’s keep the momentum going……